Nov. 23, 2013
About the Game
- Georgia concludes its participation in the 2013 Charleston Classic with a Sunday afternoon contest against Nebraska. The Bulldogs arrive at this game with a 1-3 overall record, having dropped its first two games in Charleston, first to Davidson and, most recently, to Temple by an 83-81 tally on Friday night. Georgia trailed by 13 to the Owls at halftime and by 15 early in the final period. The Bulldogs, however, fought back to take an 81-80 lead with 18 seconds left, only to see Temple guard Will Cummings sink a long 3-pointer to win with seven ticks left.
- This marks the fourth consecutive year Georgia has participated in an "exempt" tournament, a feature to the schedule that has taken the Bulldogs to Orlando, Kansas City and Brooklyn in recent years. Charleston is certainly the closest locale for the Bulldogs in an exempt setting.
- These two programs have split the only two prior meetings, both coming in Lincoln. Georgia won a regular-season matchup in December of 1985 while Nebraska won a first-round NIT home game in March of 1995.
- Sunday's game continues a challenging, early-season stretch of the schedule for Georgia. Coming on the heels of a game against Georgia Tech, its participation in the Charleston Classic should provide an accurate depiction of this team for the season's remainder.
New Faces Abound on Bulldog Roster
Georgia's core of returning players remains solid for the 2014 season, yet coach Mark Fox will be incorporating a slew of newcomers into the lineup. Senior Donte' Williams and sophomore Brandon Morris are the only two returnees who were starting at the end of last season. Three key players, however, have seen significant playing time, plenty of which came as starters: redshirt junior Marcus Thornton, junior Nemi Djurisic and sophomore Charles Mann. The latter, in fact, earned Freshman All-SEC honors last season in primarily a reserve's role. Djurisic is Georgia's top returning scorer, despite his part-time starter status last season. Thornton had started seven of nine games before a knee injury ended his 2013 season.
|F||2||Marcus Thornton**||6-8||235||RJr.||Atlanta, Ga.||5.0||3.3|
|F||15||Donte' Williams***||6-9||225||Sr.||Ellenwood, Ga.||7.3||5.5|
|F||42||Nemanja Djurisic**||6-8||230||So.||Podgorica, Montenegro||12.5||4.5|
|G||4||Charles Mann*||6-5||210||So.||Alpharetta, Ga.||17.0||2.8a|
|G||12||Kenny Gaines*||6-3||195||So.||Atlanta, Ga.||14.3||3.8|
#Assists Per Game
|F||2||David Rivers||6-7||198||Jr.||Little Rock, Ark.||4.2||2.2|
|F||5||Terran Petteway||6-6||209||So.||Galveston, Texas||17.0||4.8|
|F||35||Walter Pitchford||6-10||234||So.||Grand Rapids, Mich.||8.2||3.8|
|G||00||Tai Webster||6-4||194||Fr.||Auckland, New Zealand||9.0||2.6|
|G||31||Shavon Shields||6-7||219||So.||Olathe, Kan.||14.4||5.2|
Head Coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska / Years: 18-20 / 2nd season
Overall Record / Years: 301-240 / 19th season
Assistant Coaches: Chris Harriman, Kenya Hunter, Craig Smith
Georgia vs. Nebraska
Sunday's game is just the third all-time meeting between these two programs. They split the first two meetings, both played in Lincoln:
Dec. 20, 1985: Georgia 67, Nebraska 64
Mar. 14, 1995: Nebraska 69, Georgia 61 (NIT 1st round)
Both of these meetings took place during the 17-year tenure of former Bulldog head coach Hugh Durham. The latter game, in fact, proved to be his final game coaching at Georgia, where he remains the program's all-time winningest basketball coach.
Much has been made of the new enforcement of existing rules, as well as new rules, for the coming basketball season. Specifically, the following are supposed to be different from past seasons:
Under the revised block/charge call in men's basketball, a defensive player is not permitted to move into the path of an offensive player once he has started his upward motion with the ball to attempt a field goal or pass. If the defensive player is not in legal guarding position by this time, it is a blocking foul. Previously, a defender had to be in legal guarding position when the offensive player lifted off the floor.
It is believed that the rule change will: 1) Allow for more offensive freedom; 2) Provide clarity for officials in making this difficult call; and 3) Enhance the balance between offense and defense.
Additionally, officials will be required to adhere to new points of emphasis, all designed to encourage "freedom of movement" in the game of basketball. They include: 1) When a defensive player keeps a hand or forearm on an opponent; 2) When a defensive player puts two hands on an opponent; 3) When a defensive player continually jabs by extending his arm(s) and placing a hand or forearm on the opponent; 4) When a player uses an arm bar to impede the progress of an opponent.
Thus far, as all participants adjust to these changes, the volume of called fouls has risen measurably. In Georgia's five games thus far (exhibition + 3 in regular season), there were 217 fouls called (43/game). For what it's worth, last season there were an average of 36 fouls called in Georgia's games.
Georgia began this season amidst low expectations...externally, anyway. The Bulldogs were picked by the media that cover SEC basketball to finish 11th in the 14-team league, ahead of only South Carolina, Mississippi State and Auburn. This, despite a 9-9 SEC record last year and an eighth-place tie in the final regular-season standings. Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee were picked 1-2-3 in the same poll. Additionally, no Bulldogs were selected to the 16-player pre-season All-SEC lists.
About the Schedule
Conference expansion manifests itself in many strange ways, not the least of which occurs in scheduling. Georgia fans noticed this oddity most recently as their football team has traveled to Auburn in consecutive seasons.
This season their basketball team will experience one of the oddest quirks to its schedule in years. Kentucky will not travel to Athens for a game this season for the first time since the 1962-63 season. Same for Tennessee. For Florida, which also won't play a game in Athens this season, the last time it didn't play in Athens was in 1961-62. The Gators are the most frequent opponent in UGA hoops history.
It took a World War to keep all three schools out of Athens together in the same season the last time. Not since the 1943-44 season -- when Georgia played just 17 games and dotted its schedule with random groups like Lawson General Hospital and Robins Airfield -- has this phenomenon occurred.
Georgia has already played two of five games this season against Southern Conference teams, having been a charter SoCon member itself back in 1921. It has an all-time record of 81-20 against current SoCon schools, most notably the 22-4 mark against Furman and 11-4 against Georgia Southern. After defeating Wofford in the season opener, and facing Davidson in Charleston, the Bulldogs are slated to play three more of their conference brethren this season: Appalachian State, Chattanooga and Western Carolina.
From the Temple Game
Georgia trailed by 13 at halftime and by 15 early in the final period. If they had stopped Temple on its final possession, it would have been the biggest successful comeback by Georgia in the Mark Fox era.
As it was, the loss marked Georgia's fourth straight when the opposition scored on its last possession. That streak goes back to the Bulldogs' last three SEC road games of the 2013 season.
The game represented a breakout of sorts for sophomore guard Kenny Gaines, who set career highs in points (21) and minutes played (35). Gaines spent the 2013 season backing up eventual NBA lottery pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and therefore, found his playing time sparse at times.
The game also marked the return to competition by sophomore forward Brandon Morris, who missed the season's first three games at the discretion of head coach Mark Fox. Morris made his presence felt, particularly with eight second-half points and a pair of key assists.
Georgia has encountered a pair of hot-shooting opponents in its first two Charleston Classic games. Davidson and Temple have combined to make 19 of 44 attempts from 3-point range (43 pct.), a stark reversal of the Bulldogs' first two opponents this season (Wofford & Ga. Tech) who shot just 21 percent from beyond the arc.
2012-13 Season Recap
The Bulldogs posted a 15-17 overall record, 9-9 in SEC games, a mark that was good for an eighth-place tie in the final standings.
Sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope swept the major post-season individual awards, winning SEC Player of the Year by the Coaches and the Associated Press. He became just the second Bulldog to win any SEC P-O-Y award since wire services began naming recipients in 1965.
Georgia posted a 5-game win streak in SEC play, the program's longest in 12 years. Three of those five games were on the road.
Point guard Charles Mann earned appointment to the Coaches' Freshman All-SEC team, the Bulldogs' second such honor in as many years.
Caldwell-Pope announced in March 2013 that he would enter the NBA Draft, a wise decision in light of his eventual status as a lottery pick by the Detroit Pistons.
Williams a Seasoned Veteran
With Marcus Thornton receiving a medical redshirt season from 2013, Donte' Williams became the Bulldogs' lone senior this season. He is already the most experienced Bulldog, having started 59 games in the past two seasons. That's more than twice the total of Thornton, who is second on the team in career starts with 27, including seven in his truncated season of 2013. Williams enters this season with 471 career points, second among all Bulldogs behind Nemi Djurisic, who has tallied 475 in two seasons.
Mann is the Man
Charles Mann enjoyed one of the best seasons by a freshman guard in Georgia history last year. The Alpharetta resident ranked third on the team in scoring at 6.7 points per game. He led the Bulldogs in assists with 92 and free-throw attempts with 170. Mann's 92 assists, in fact, were the most by a freshman guard since Dustin Ware's 108 in 2009. Ware started 17 games and averaged over 25 minutes that season.
Mann's 170 trips to the free throw line --- fifth-best total in the SEC last season -- were the most by a Georgia freshman guard since Litterial Green tried 187 foul shots in his rookie season of 1989. Djurisic is Dogs' Top Returning Scorer
Junior forward Nemi Djurisic is Georgia's top returning scorer for the 2013-14 season. The 6-8 native of Montenegro averaged 7.9 points during the entirety of the season, 7.8 during 18 SEC games. This marks the first time in nine years that Georgia has no double-figure scorer coming back from the previous season. In the 2004-05 season, Levi Stukes was the Bulldogs' highest-scoring returnee at 9.5 points. The 7.9 ppg average by Djurisic is the smallest average by the highest-scoring returnee since Ray Harrison led the 1996-97 Bulldogs with a 6.3 scoring average.
Forte Cracks the Starting Lineup
Junior-college transfer Cameron Forte became the first Georgia newcomer this season to earn first-team status. The Tempe, Ariz., native played his way into the starting lineup with a pair of strong performances, first in Georgia's exhibition game vs. UNC-Pembroke and later in the season opener vs. Wofford. He tallied 10 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes of the exhibition game. Four days later he contributed nine points and two boards in 16 minutes off the bench against Wofford.
Forte has created a niche for himself as perhaps the Bulldogs' most effective inside scorer. In the description of teammate Nemi Djurisic, "he just hunts the basket."
Forte originally signed with Texas Tech out of McClintock High School in Tempe but lasted just one semester in Lubbock before transferring to Northern Arizona. He eventually landed at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas.
Georgia and the SEC
Following are a few tidbits about Georgia's history in the SEC:
Georgia's all-time record in SEC games, covering 80 years, is 498-732 (.405). That ranks 10th of 12 SEC members (excluding Missouri and Texas A&M).
Georgia can claim one SEC regular-season championship (1990), one regular-season divisional title (2002) and two SEC Tournament crowns (1983, 2008).
Georgia has had just two AP SEC Player of the Year: Dominique Wilkins in 1981 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope last season. Other superlative post-season awards include Coaches' SEC Defensive Player of the Year (Rashad Wright in 2004), AP SEC Newcomer of the Year (Jarvis Hayes in 2002), and Scholar-Athlete of the Year (Dave Bliss in 2008).
Wilkins was the first of four Georgia players to lead the SEC in scoring at season's end. He averaged a league-best 23.6 points per game in 1981. Others to follow him have been Vern Fleming (19.8 ppg in 1984), Jumaine Jones (18.8 ppg in 1999) and Jarvis Hayes (18.6 ppg in 2002).
Georgia has an all-time SEC Tournament record of 40-51. The 2008 tourney marked the first time since 1997 that Georgia has reached the finals.
Staff Changes for 2014
For the first time of his 4+ seasons in Athens, head coach Mark Fox made changes to his immediate coaching staff. Three-year UGA letterman (2002-04) Jonas Hayes was promoted from Operations Coordinator to Assistant Coach. A native Atlantan, Hayes returned to UGA in 2012 after serving as an Assistant Coach at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina for five seasons. He had also assisted the programs at South Carolina State, Morehouse and his alma mater, Douglass High School, after graduating from UGA in 2004.
Hayes, whose twin brother Jarvis continues to play professionally overseas, became the first Georgia basketball alumnus to hold a full-time assistant's position on the staff at his alma mater since Mark Slonaker assisted Hugh Durham from 1989-95.
To replace Hayes in the Coordinator's position, Fox hired Byron Samuels in May of 2013. The Winston-Salem, N.C., native, is a veteran of the collegiate ranks whose career includes head coaching stops at Hampton, Radford and, most lastly, at Hillsborough Community College, where he coached recent UGA alum John Florveus. Samuels is a veteran of SEC basketball, having assisted four Tennessee teams that earned NCAA Tournament berths.
Fox Best at Molding Talent
Blogger and hoops junkie Dan Hanner of RealGM.com penned an article in February of 2012 that anointed Georgia head coach Mark Fox as the top coach in college basketball at player development. Hanner used a complex formula to rate college coaches. Among Hanner's many observations he writes, "Mark Fox has truly been fantastic at getting the most out of his players."
The top five in the Player Development category include Fox; Bo Ryan (Wisconsin); Craig Robinson (Oregon State); Lorenzo Romar (Washington); and Mike Montgomery (Cal).
Perhaps the most tangible proof of Fox's talent development is the number of NBA draftees and current pros that have played for him. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope became the 11th player under his tutelage to get drafted by an NBA club. He was the fourth 1st-rounder.
Fox Also Tops at Producing Grads
Head Coach Mark Fox must also receive some degree of credit for developing high-performing students in the classroom. Since his arrival in April of 2009, no fewer than 14 Georgia basketball players have earned their undergraduate degrees. Every player that has exhausted his eligibility at UGA under Fox has completed his degree.
Prominent among this group of 14 includes Damien Wilkins - nephew of UGA great Dominique Wilkins - whose last year of eligibility came in 2004 and who has played professionally in the NBA ever since.
Last summer the Georgia program was recognized by the NCAA for its Academic Progress Rate (APR) scored of 990, which ranked among the top 10 percent of all men's basketball programs.